Dear Brand New 2018 Diary,
The year is turning and I am in reflective mood. This is the time everyone makes new year's resolutions and believe me dear reader, there are enough of them in this morning's paper. So, do I need to join the party - to make some changes and improvements in my life and work? Well, at least to resolutely resolve to think about things - life, art and the universe, etc, and even make some notes about resolving to resolve. I am thinking about it and so, dear diary, this is where you come in. If I write large and long in your squeaky clean, spanking crisp new pages, then the resolves are there and I could look back at them from time to time to see if I am keeping on track.
Ah ha, I hear you cry, my dear reader. And what if you're not? Yes, dear reader, as the great man said, 'there's the rub.' What if I'm not on track at all, haven't even got saddled up, never mind got to the starting gates? How will I feel then? Failure already, that's what. Do I need to heap metaphorical coals of fire upon my head? No, I most emphatically do not.
So, dear diary, were I thinking about committing some resolutions to your pristine pages, they might look something along the lines of :
1. Be a better wife - loving, caring and giving. No, be reasonable, that is so never going to happen, especially when spouse is nagging about the writing schedule. In fact, I sometimes think he wished Christmas didn't happen at all in our house and then I could just keep going. Once Boxing Day arrived, so did the question - when are you going to start writing again? So, no, I don't think I'm going for plaster-sainthood in 2018 and the good wife bit is out the window already.
2. Alrightey - so what about a better writing schedule then? Better, as in more organised, regular and committed to it? Mmm, now that would be a good resolution, but I think I would have to live on Planet Zog to keep to it. LIFE keeps getting in the way and de-railing me and in any case I hate schedules and being organised. I can find writerly displacement activities in the unlikeliest places and anyway, it's much more fun to take myself by surprise each day and yup, the writing does get done, dear reader, I'm never too sure how but it does but there it is, so we'll dump that one too.
3. O.K., so the biggee - less alcohol, a better balanced diet and lots of fresh air and exercise. I think I need to lie down already just contemplating that lot and it's not even 2018 yet. Yes, dear diary, I am striving, really I'm striving and I can put on my virtuous face and say number three is regularly achieved as I stride out like a fiend with my pants on fire, eager to cover the miles and shed the pounds. I might think about the 'moderation in all things' bit in 2018, but I'm not ready to commit to black and white in your pages yet. Ask me again halfway through the year. With a bit of luck everyone's resolutions will be dead and buried by then and I for one will work very hard and forgetting all of mine, even if they are non-resolutions.
So, dear 2018 Diary, your pages look destined to remain very blank. I can't bear the sight of your unfilled pages staring reproachfully back at me over the next twelve months, so it might be a kindness, (to you and to me), to give you away to a more deserving cause. Now I think about it, spouse has been banging on about new year resolutions all week and I notice they are all for my self-improvement. I think I'll give him this little black book and ask him what his own intentions are for 2018. Nobly, I will refrain from filling it up for him and I can't wait to see what he comes up with.
In the meantime, Happy New Year my dear reader and I hope and pray that 2018 will be kind to us all. I will see you next week, unreconstructed and unresolved as ever and looking forward to muddling through the days and weeks with you. I have a new romantic comedy to begin and if that doesn't have possibilities for muddle, tangle and all things confusing, I don't know what does. And that's before I've started. Hey ho, bring on 2018, unresolved I think.
The sacred celebration of Christ's birth is almost upon us and at Chez Comb it is indeed a time of great rejoicing and celebration. Spouse has forgiven me for the Christmas debacle and I am out of the doghouse. He is in festive mood, so much so that the Mickey Mouse ears have come out of their summer storage and he has started calling me Rudolph. You will understand, dear reader, that I do not appreciate being known by this moniker.
Over the span of our married life - more years than I wish to recall - I have been known by many names, none of them my baptismal name. An odd phenomenon when you consider it. There is nothing outlandish or outrageous in my name - Patricia seems to be a perfectly ordinary name to me and I am pleased to have a share in Saint Patrick, as my lovely Mother was from southern Ireland and as you can tell, a great deal of the blarney runs in my veins. Were I burdened with a 'Misty Mountain' or 'Summer Rain' or even an 'Everton' or 'Cloud' I could perhaps understand a certain reluctance on spouse's part to call out my name across a crowded room. But I am not. Nevertheless, at various times and to my intense embarrassment, I have been summoned by spouse's loud voice calling for me. 'Pushkin', 'Short-Round' (and I am most emphatically NOT), 'Shortie', 'Radar' and now I am Rudolph. The only occasions when spouse uses my baptismal name is when he is cross and he strides about the house calling for me and sounding uncannily like my late father and he was bad enough and spent a lot of time being cross with his errant daughter. Am I now an errant wife? No, just an errant reindeer by the sound of it.
I don't think I resemble a reindeer. I have not noticed a red nose, hairy coat or antlers about my person lately, so why - on awakening - and gazing semi-lovingly down at me through the December morning glow - did he see Rudolph? Personally I think he should take more water with it and whatever he is on I want none of it. But, on considering the lilies of the field a little further, does that make him a reindeer too? It takes one to know one after all. Am I living with Dasher, Dancer or Prancer? Mmmm, that would be fun wouldn't it, calling out 'Oh, Prancer...' across a crowded Christmas shop?
Pondering spouse's current predilection for reindeer nomenclature I am beginning to wonder if I am living with Prancer or Dancer. Now that I think about it he has taken to calling me Elf and I have caught him in unguarded moments checking out the rooftops in the village. And he has put up a huge new shed at the bottom of the garden. I am not allowed in but have been sneakily peeking in at the windows when his back is turned. There appears to be a large sled in there and a whole heap of prettily wrapped parcels. Now I've got it - I'm living with Santa! So, bring on Dasher, Vixen, Dancer Prancer Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph and Olive, We shall be making a few journeys tonight Do I hear their sleighbells already?
Goodnight, dear reader - it looks like I am in for a busy time. I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and prayerful Christmas and we will meet again on the cusp of the new year.
The season of Advent is in full swing, a time for prayer and preparation for the birth of Christ and a time to celebrate this event. Alongside my spiritual preparation I have begun my temporal - decking the halls with Christmas holly and all that jazz. As this is the first Christmas in our new home I laid my plans - fairy lights along the decorative plate in the sitting room and a handsome tree complete with our Star of Bethlehem on top to lighten our winter darkness.
I communicated my plans to spouse and he was quite taken with my ideas and went on a foray to the loft to retrieve the tree, lights and box of decorations. I am pleased to report, dear reader, that no mishaps occurred this time as he shimmied up and down the loft ladder. I don't know how the Christmas traditions work in your home, dear reader, but decorating the tree is mostly left to my artistic ministrations. But first spouse has to put the tree in a suitable pot. When he returned from this little task I pointed out the place in the sitting room where I wanted it to go and tripped off up the village whilst he wrestled with swathing the tree in fairy lights.
So far so very good, my dear reader. However, on my return, where was my tree? Not in its chosen spot at all. Spouse had obviously not listened to a word I'd said, (nothing new there then) and had placed the tree in a very awkward place where we would knock into it coming in and out of the room and if we have Raffles our guest-dog visiting - once swish of his tail and that will be it. You can imagine the conversation can't you, dear reader? Along the lines of 'It's lovely, but it's in the wrong place.' 'What do you mean it's in the wrong place? How can there be a "wrong" place?' 'I said over there,' quoth I, pointing to the opposite side of the room. 'What's wrong with here?' 'Everything. Put it over there and we won't be barging into it every time we come in.' 'We can walk round it,' splutters he in exasperation.
I hope your imagination can stretch to the pitying looks expended on spouse at this point. Let's just say with much huffing and puffing the tree was moved and I set to work, hanging its boughs with the baubles and decorations we have collected over many years. I was standing back admiring my handiwork, when spouse materialised beside me, ready to put the star on top of the tree and add his own personal tweaks.
At this juncture in my tale I should say in my defence that I had been blithely tripping up and down the stepladders all afternoon in pursuit of my decorative arts. Thus it was that I never gave a nanomoments thought to spouse ascending them. And that, dear reader, is why I am now firmly and completely in the doghouse with no release date as yet in sight. My care of the floorboards in our new home has been my downfall. Well actually, not mine, but spouse's - literally. The ground floor of our new abode has wooden floors and in an effort not to scratch them with my stepladders, (which are ancient and long ago lost their rubber feet), I taped them up with gaffa tape. Brilliant, I thought and so it was. Not a floorboard was scratched in the decorating of the tree. What I did not bargain for was the element of slideability I had introduced into the operation.
As I have said I shimmied up and down the ladders all afternoon with nary a slide or a slip to be had. Yes, I am small and not a heavyweight, so maybe that's why I put no stresses on said steps. However and how can I put this delicately without putting myself further in the doghouse? Let me just say that spouse is a tall man, a broad man and not a skinny man. I'm not too sure what happened, but once up the ladders and leaning in to affix the star to the top of the tree, the ladders slid away from him.
In the excitement of the moment one hand clutched on to the tree and the other to the plate shelf. I think you know the rest - six foot of burly male is a most unfair match for a very light Christmas tree and a plate shelf. 'Down will come baby cradle and all' wasn't in it. The ladders slid one way and spouse the other, ending in a tangled heap of smashed lights, broken tree and squashed decorations, not to mention the whack on the head as the plate rack bounced off him.
I will draw a veil over the next half hour or so. It is rather painful - physically for spouse who is now nursing bruised limbs and a fat head and emotionally painful for yours truly as my common sense and sanity have been bought into question, as in 'What idiot would ever think of putting gaffa tape round the stepladders, you've totally lost the plot this time' and much more besides.
So, my dear reader, spare a kind word for me in my doghouse if you pass by. Chez Comb is a very quiet place as I swipe disconsolately with my brush at the wreckage in the sitting room. And please, should your path cross with spouse's, please don't offer him the compliments of the season. It might not only be 'Christmas, bah!' I think he might spontaneously combust.
I don't know about you dear reader, but I like to ease gently into the day. Not for me the bouncing out of bed, full of enthusiasm to tackle the day ahead routine, the minute one eye is open. I appreciate you may view the start of your day differently and I am very happy for you (and not a little envious) if you do. To be fair to myself I am usually very enthusiastic and full of plans and ideas for the day - but only after a gentle easing into the day propped up in bed, sipping a cup of tea bought to me by my dear spouse. We have covered have we not, spouse's journey through the morning tea-making routine? So I won't even go there on that one. Recently the journey for the coffee making has been outlined to me - picking the beans, transporting, grinding them - you get the picture no doubt. I am not giving him any air time over that one as yet.
Where was I? Oh yes, a gently awakening into the morning. I remember those halcyon days well. Remember, I hear you say? Indeed, dear reader and a very pleasant and distant memory it is too. For my morning routine has been scattered to the four winds. We are dog-sitting again. I love Raffles dearly - a 'lassie' dog, or rough-haired collie for those in the doggie-know. Although why they are called 'rough-haired' I do not know, as our Raffles has lovely soft hair, (is that because he is newly come from the dog groomers?) Anyway, as I said, I love Raffles dearly, but I do not love his idea of a morning routine.
He likes to be up nice and early - never mind that it is still winter-dark outside and I am still enjoying my slumbers. No, he is ready for the day and summons us to attend to his needs. Eagerly he steps outside to sniff the morning sniffs all around the garden and generally re-acquaint himself with Mother Nature in a leisurely fashion. I, meanwhile, stand watchfully and shivering at the garden door, waiting for the hound to make his way back up the garden. No amount of hissed commands, (it is the crack of dawn and I don't want to upset the neighbours by yelling like a banshee). So I hiss through gritted teeth - 'RAFFLES, COME IN.' Selective deafness always sets in the minute he is let loose and no way is he going to take the slightest notice of me, a mere human.
By now I am nearly an iceberg watching the wretched dog slowly make his way back up the garden. Reluctantly he deigns to re-enter the premises, staring up at me, slightly bemused, as I mutter various imprecations to him under my breath. Now I am ready to sit down and defrost over a hot cup of tea by. But no such luck for me, dear reader as Raffles has other ideas. He has two teddies, a big one and a small one with a squeak in it. Why, oh why did I ever buy him that? He absolutely adores it and never more so than at the crack of dawn. Refreshed from his zonked-out night's sleep and a gentle garden stroll, he returns to Chez Comb full of energy and ready to kill squeaky Ted again and again and again .....
Only he won't kill him on his own. We have to be involved too. Just as I am about to imbibe the amazing brew that spouse has lovingly prepared, a wet, slobbery teddy is thrust into my face by a growling waggy-tailed dog, a present he is sure I am delighted to have. 'Come on, play the game,' he is saying and growls and prances before me. This is a dog that wouldn't say 'boo' to a goose when really challenged, but give him squeaky Ted and he becomes a lion-dog.
And so we play the game, growling along with Raffles and squeaking with Ted. No, please, do not try to imagine this scene, it's all too embarrassing. But at heart we are big softies and love our guest-dog and know how much he enjoys his morning play. And to end on a positive note, I can look forward to the day when I am standing on the doorstep watching the car tail-lights disappearing down the road, bearing Raffles back to his own domain and ponder lovingly the thought of waking up the next morning to Radio 4 and the dulcet Welsh tones of John Humphrys, ushering me into a new day and no killing Ted in sight.
I am very sorry dear reader but there will not be blog this week due to family illness - not spouse - but other members of our family are not so grand just now. I hope to be with you again next week. In the meantime I hope you all have a very good week. Best wishes, Patricia